By Gary R. Rasberry
LEXINGTON -- The keys to success for Coldwater were simple on Wednesday night: Control the boards, keep the turnovers down, and make sure that Chippewa standout Chrissy Summers was well-guarded.
All three goals were met for the most part as the Cavaliers defeated the Lady Chipps 50-34 to advance to the Division III regional championship game at Lexington High School.
The Cavaliers (19-5) play Castalia Margaretta (22-3) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for a berth in the state final four next week in Columbus. Margaretta beat Columbus Grove 52-49 in the nightcap to move to Saturday's championship game.
Coldwater started out hot, leading 10-3 midway through the first quarter and taking a 14-7 lead after the first eight minutes. The key to the hot start was the fact that Margaretta was getting one shot at the basket while the Cavaliers were getting a number of second chances. In the game, Coldwater won the rebounding battle 36-16 with the Cavaliers getting 16 offensive rebounds to the Lady Chipps' seven.
"That was one of the things we talked about in the keys to the game," said Coldwater coach Nick Fisher. "Number one was getting them on the boards. We've been a good rebounding team all year, so that was something I thought we could exploit." "We had to rebound," said Chippewa coach Rich Berlin. "Coldwater is a real physical team. They do a great job of boxing out, hit the offensive boards. We had to control the boards to have a chance to win. At halftime, rebounds were 19-5 (in favor of Coldwater). We dug ourselves a hole that was hard to get out of."
The second key was keeping Chipps' scorer Summers under control. Summers, with over 1,200 career points, entered the game averaging 22.1 points per game. Summers did score the first 11 points for the Lady Chipps but was putting up a lot of shots go to score those points.
"We basically had three different people on her," said Fisher of Summers, who did have 19 points in the game, but on just 6-of-21 shooting. "You've seen Red (Renee Hemmelgarn) play all year. She's as good a defender as there is in our area. (Summers) really made Red work and Red made her work too."
When Hemmelgarn got into foul trouble, Brooke Gross came off the bench to help in the containment of Summers.
"I thought Brooke came off the bench and did a good job defending her," said Fisher. "Allison Wenning also came off the bench to guard her a bit. We were missing them through the middle part of the season due to injury. They've come back and really made us deep."
"They made her work really hard for her shots," said Berlin. "When you're trying to play catch-up basketball and you work hard for your shots, then play pressure defense, it starts to wear you down. We started wearing down a bit because we got down early."
After cutting the deficit to under double digits -- 28-19 -- at the half, Coldwater got back on track in the third quarter. Robbins added six points in the quarter with Amber Heyne adding four to push the lead to 40-26 going into the final eight minutes.
The third part of the keys to victory in Fishers' eyes was keeping control of the ball, but the Cavs didn't do that particularly well until the final period. Chippewa had put on a full-court press for most of the game, forcing 16 /Cavalier turnovers through three periods.
In the fourth, however, Coldwater took care of the ball and passed the ball around the perimeter in an attempt to take time off the clock with a double-digit advantage. Chippewa was forced to foul to put Coldwater in the bonus, but the Cavaliers knocked down the free throws, connecting on 11-of-16 in the game, including 8-of-12 in the final quarter.
"We did a good job," said Fisher. "We had us for one turnover in the fourth. We did a much better job of taking care of the ball."
Coldwater got its points from its regular threats. Kendra Robbins finished with 19 points and nine rebounds while Jessica Bettinger added 10 points. Tasha Stucke had an all-around night, scoring seven points to go with eight rebounds and four assists.
No other Lady Chipp scored in double figures other than Summers. Kay Young added seven points.
TICKETS -- Tickets for the regional championship game on Saturday will be on sale during the school day today and Friday in the high school office as well as tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Commons.
Tickets for the game are $6.
Margaretta 52, Columbus Grove 49
The Bears placed four in double figures, with two posting double-doubles, in outscoring the Bulldogs 7-3 in the final two minutes to get the comeback win.
A number of key players from the Bears' regional volleyball team that lost to Parkway in the final helped in the win. Brittany Nesbit had 10 points and 11 rebounds while Michele Kuns had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Emily Kuns led Margaretta with 13 points while Cayla Keegan added 12 points. Amanda Schroeder led Grove with 20 points and Kirsten Ruen added 11 points.